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‘Jefferson’s Qu’ran’ And Islam In America

How a founding father, Thomas Jefferson, came to understand Islam.

On President Thomas Jefferson's gravestone in Virginia, his promotion of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom was one of the three things he was most proud of. (Creative Commons)

On President Thomas Jefferson’s gravestone in Virginia, his promotion of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom was one of the three things he was most proud of. (Creative Commons)

Back in the founding days of this nation, ideas were big.  The rights of Man.  Democracy, and citizenship.  And of course, freedom of religion.  But the religious debates were mostly among Protestants.  Catholics and Jews were the outliers.  Muslims?  Well they were beyond the pale.  The Ottoman, the Barbary pirate.  And, lest we forget, the American slave.  But a new book says Thomas Jefferson thought about Islam and could see a day when Muslims would be a part of the fabric of American democracy.  This hour On Point:  Thomas Jefferson, his Koran and Islam in American history.

Guests

Denise Spellberg, professor of history and Middle Eastern studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Author of “Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam And The Founders.”

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Minnesota’s Fifth District. First Muslim to be elected to the U.S. Congress. (@KeithEllison)

From The Reading List

San Francisco Chronicle: ’Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an,’ by Denise Spellberg — “One of the strangest symptoms of our diseased political culture is the stubborn belief of some, despite all the contrary evidence, that President Obama is a Muslim. Slander and calumny are hardly new features of American politics. Usually it takes the form of an accusation that so-and-so is a socialist, or even a ‘commie’ – another fervid charge frequently leveled at our current president. But as it turns out, the accusation that he is a Muslim is a quality that Obama shares with one of his most illustrious predecessors, Thomas Jefferson.”

The Daily Beast: How Islam Shaped the Founders — “Thomas Jefferson, a central figure in Spellberg’s book, had a strong, lifelong commitment to religious liberty. Jefferson rejected toleration, the alternative perspective and one embraced by John Locke and John Adams, as grounded on the idea that a religious majority has a right to impose its will on a religious minority, but chooses to be tolerant for reasons of benevolence. Religious liberty, Jefferson argued, denies the majority any right to coerce a dissenting minority, even one hostile to religion. Jefferson rejected using government power to coerce religious belief and practice because it would create a nation of tyrants and hypocrites, as it is impossible to force someone to believe against the promptings of his conscience.”

New York Times: People Of the Book – “Jefferson, studying law at the College of William and Mary, acquired an English translation of Islam’s sacred text. He never claimed that the Quran shaped his political orientation. Yet Spellberg, an associate professor of Middle Eastern studies at the University of Texas at Austin, makes a persuasive case for its centrality. To oversimplify: What began as an academic interest in Islamic law and religion yielded a fascination with Islamic culture, which disposed him to include Muslims in his expansive vision of American citizenship.”

Read An Excerpt Of “Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam And The Founders” by Denise Spellberg

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  • docmusic

    CRAP…..total nonsense…..this kind of crap is inserted by muslims for muslims ….total rubbish….islam should be banned and smashed….asap.

    • Jon

      are you suggesting all religions be banned or just Islam?

    • James Hayes-Bohanan

      If you want a religion banned, you need to find a country with a different constitution.

    • Ray in VT

      Good suggestion. Where in the Constitution does it allow for the government to ban a religion because some people don’t like it?

      • fun bobby

        unless you are a Rastafarian or a Coptic then they ban your sacrament.

        • Ray in VT

          It has long been the case that particular religious practices have not been allowed when those practices conflict with the law.

          • fun bobby

            poor Mitt

    • Fredlinskip

      Safe to assume you’re not in favor of the version of the bible that Jefferson wrote?

      • Ray in VT

        Come on, man. Just read David Barton. He’ll tell you that that is just a myth. ;)

    • MOFYC

      Maybe in your backwards country that sort of thing happens, but we don’t do that in America.

    • jefe68

      The ugly face of intolerance.

      • Joe Mahma

        The ugly face of ignorance about what’s going on in the world. Look into what’s going on in EU and GB with regard to the Islamic scourge.

        • jefe68

          I’m not ignorant to what’s going on in the world. Although you seem to be, as your comment alludes to the same intolerance and ignorance as the the one I commented on.

          There are a billion plus Muslims in the world and the majority of them are not fundamentalist fanatics. I also am aware that in some European countries, France for instance, there is a colonial legacy that they are dealing with as well. Something you seem ignorant of.

  • Ray in VT

    Does anyone else here remember the furor when Representative Ellison was going to supposedly get sworn in using a Qu’ran, when he in fact used Jefferson’s Qu’ran (I think) during the post swearing in photo op.?

    • northeaster17

      I remember that. The horrors of it all and the ghastly indignation of good Christians everywhere. And yet the republic still survives.

      • Sams Sam

        And what about bad Christians everywhere? Bad Christians used the Bible to uphold slavery.

        • northeaster17

          Just ask one. They’ll tell ya their of the right kind and good.

    • TFRX

      I remember that “swearing in by TV” was good enough for a few Teabaggers, but the media shat its collective pants when Obama because blackDemocrat.

      The particular crisis–Obama was sworn in on a Koran, or Roberts fluffed the words, or maybe the CJUS had his fingers crossed, so it didn’t count–matters not. Just a little shtstorm, and then the BriWis and Diane Sawyers had to TeachTheControversy.

  • HonestDebate1

    We should stop painting Muslims with a broad brush. They are not ALL peace loving harmless fuzz balls.

    • Ray in VT

      Who said that, and how does that relate to the topic of Thomas Jefferson and Islam?

      • HonestDebate1

        The administration sets the tone. They refuse to say “radical Islam” and have continuously refused to call terrorist attacks what they are.

        When the Marathon was bombed there was a reluctance to even suggest we suspect radical Islam and in fact that dynamic prevented authorities from even looking. They had a file an Tsaraev.

        I think Jefferson was brutally honest about Islam and took the approach I advocated.

        • jefe68

          Really? How so?

        • J__o__h__n

          The FBI certainly dropped the ball by not informing the Boston Police about the terrorist threat, but racing to label the attack as by Muslim extremists before the evidence was in, did not hinder authorities from looking for and apprehending the suspect.

          • HonestDebate1

            That’s not my point. I did not advocate racing to label it a terrorist attack. I’m just saying don’t rule it out and tiptoe around the truth.

          • J__o__h__n

            They didn’t rule it out. You said that their reluctance to suggest it was radical Islam and that prevented authorities from looking: “When the Marathon was bombed there was a reluctance to even suggest we suspect radical Islam and in fact that dynamic prevented authorities from even looking.”

          • HonestDebate1

            The authorities had Tsaraev’s picture on file, they didn’t look or they would not have had to ask for the public’s help. There had to be reluctance or certainly a lack of curiosity.

            The press showed no reluctance to speculate that it was a right winger.

            I think it’s fine for police to suspect everyone, but they didn’t.

          • J__o__h__n

            Press speculation isn’t the same as what the police were targeting. I first thought it was a right winger based on the date. I was hardly shocked when my second guess turned out to be the bombers. I don’t see there was any evidence that the police focused on right wing suspects at the expense of looking for Muslim terrorists. I was not impressed with many aspects of the police investigation, but I don’t think your criticism is valid.

          • HonestDebate1

            I may not have been clear. They are two different things. I don’t know what the police were targeting but I know they didn’t check their files for radical Muslims in the Boston are or question mosques.

          • Don_B1

            When you are trying to muddy the waters of the discussion, you aren’t trying to be clear!

            And just how do you “know” these things?

        • Ray in VT

          Those are some interestingly colored glasses with which you view the current administration. It seems to me that it is that sort of view that compels some members of the Tea Party Caucus to suggest that the current administration somehow aligns itself with radical Islamists whenever possible.

          Considering the history of native terrorist bombings, I think that to jump to the conclusion that the Boston Marathon bombing had to be tied to Islam would be misguided. They had looked at Tsarnaev and did not find that they thought that he posed a threat. They also have files on who knows how many others, so if you think that you’re so great at finding the needles in the haystack, then maybe you should join the Feds and give them some guidance. By the way, how did that whole thing about Beck harassing that Saudi kid work out? Last time I brought it up I think that you were still pushing that conspiracy line. Change your mind?

          (edit) Also, who does not take the approach that among any particular group there are both good and bad people? The likes of Pam Gellar certainly come to mind regarding those who dislike Islam, as it seems the poster who here calls for outlawing it in America.

          • HonestDebate1

            What do you dispute about my characterization of the administration’s characterization of Islam?

            I don’t know what the tea part has o do with anything. I wouldn’t say Obama always aligns himself with radicals but there is a history. He did side with the Muslim Brotherhood over the Egyptian people. He didn’t side with the Iranian people in 2009 either. He did avoid visiting Israel in his first term while he went to several Muslim countries. He did suggest Israel go back to the 67 borders.

            If the authorities had immediately checked any Muslims with a paper trail in the Boston area they would have not had to release his picture and hope for a tip. They had his picture. You and many others were busy blaming Christians or Tea Partiers. That’s what’s misguided.

            I don’t know what happened to that very bad man. And given your history I have no idea what conspiracy you have projected on to me.

          • Ray in VT

            I dispute your characterization that the administration denies or ignores that there is such a thing as radical Islam.

            I am merely pointing out the sort of bat spit crazy things that come out of the mouths of Tea Partiers in Congress. It would be pretty funny most of the time if they didn’t have such a large stage and audience for their idiocy.

            So, supporting the legitimately elected government of a country is siding against the people. I thought that you didn’t like “the mob”, yet you seem to have no problem with it overthrowing the government of Egypt. I forget that Obama could have brought down the Islamic Republic by backing the protests, and I guess that he’s the only guy pushing a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians where the Israelis might have to compromise and give something up.

            Please tell me when I blamed Christians and teabaggers for the bombing. I forget some things, but I don’t think that I have forgotten that one. Please enlighten me though.

            So yes, then. You’re still sticking by that moronic conspiracy theory that Beck pushed against and someone who was cleared by the cops. Maybe you still want the Post’s “bagmen” guys rounded up too.

          • HonestDebate1

            Please show me where Obama has ever uttered the word’s “radical Islam”.

            Put Maxine Waters, Joe Biden, Sheila Jackson Lee, Nancy Pelosi and Harold Johnson on that stage and get back with me.

            Obama certainly had no problem ushering Mubarek out the door but the people had to oust the MB on their own.

            Yes, you said most of the time it was right wingers who do this sort of thing and you stood by it. You probably still do. You cling to Eric Rudolf.

            What Beck said about the Saudi national was true. I have no idea what you say Beck said but it’s probably not true.

          • Ray in VT

            Yeah, I’m sure that none of those people have ever talked about radical Islam or Islamic extremists. That’s probably why he said that the war on terror is over, plus you didn’t build that and some other right wing idiocy.

            Morsi was democratically elected. Mubarek was not, and Mubarek was shooting down his own people in the streets when they demanded a free and fair election.

            I said at the time that there were far more incidents of deadly domestic terror committed by racists or anti-abortion fanatics. I stand by that. It’s true and it is a fact. Believe whatever lies are believed in your circles.

            What that Beck said was true? Why was he a “bad man” aside from Beck declaring it to be so? Morons like him who stir up rubes should be careful, because some twits will listen and then try to shoot up a place or burn a mosque based upon what they hear.

          • HonestDebate1

            Yadda yadda.

          • Ray in VT

            I truly well thought out and reasoned rebuttal. Congrats.

          • HonestDebate1

            I truly well thought too.

          • Ray in VT

            Yup, when you can’t back up your claims or when you feel the need to defend a dictator or oppose a democratically elected government, it’s probably best just to give up then to embarrass yourself, although you seem to be fine with doing that when you want to fight the dictionary or something.

          • Don_B1

            President Obama sided with the Egyptian people over the increasingly despotic rule of the Egyptian military under its President, Hosni Mubarak.

            Many of the provisions that were adopted into the new Egyptian constitution were opposed but the elections were accepted as the expression, faulty as it was, of the Egyptian people. Thus President Obama did not openly work to depose the elected President Mohamed Morsi until mass protests led or gave cover to the military to again remove a sitting president from power, and then only reluctantly because of the increasing instability in the country.

            The Obama administration had tried to advise President Morsi to follow a more collaborative, inclusive governing path, but when he insisted on using the government’s power to consolidate radical Islamic power, support of President Morsi became impossible and ended.

          • HonestDebate1
          • hennorama

            Ray in VT — it’s not really surprising that some conservatives “suggest that the current administration somehow aligns itself with radical Islamists” when you remember that polling has consistently found that about 30 percent of conservatives believe President Obama is a Muslim.

          • HonestDebate1

            Oh please, no one thinks he’s a Muslim by Christian definitions.

          • Ray in VT

            Except for all of the dopes that think that he’s a secret Muslim.

            What is a “Christian” definition of Muslim. Is that any different from a Hindu’s, Buddhist’s or non-believer’s definition of a Muslim?

          • HonestDebate1

            I was referring o the Islamic definition of Muslim. According to Islam, Obama is a Muslim simply because his father was a Muslim.

          • J__o__h__n

            His father was an atheist. Does his apostasy break the chain?

          • HonestDebate1

            I don’t think so. I don’t care. Obama is a black liberation theologist, that concerns me more than any wacko theories.

          • northeaster17
          • Ray in VT

            Awww, besties!

          • HonestDebate1

            Now Bush is a different story, definitely a Muslim.

          • jefe68

            Now you are showing your true colors.
            And they are not pretty.

          • HonestDebate1

            Where do you disagree?

          • TFRX

            Go peddle that crap with your FoxnFriends and see how far you get. Talk your crazy right-wing allies off their lunatic fringe.

            We know what you’re trying to do here. And you’re so far out of the mainstream your making a fool of yourself.

          • HonestDebate1

            Obama was born a Muslim according to Islam. I am the one saying he is not a Muslim. I don’t care what the Quran says.

          • DDaguera

            Sheesh, this was about Thomas Jefferson’s study of Islam and opinions of the rights of Muslims in America’s future. And it’s devolved into the old myth and debate about whether Obama is Muslim. I beg to differ with your statement above, because:

            1) According to Islam, EVERYONE (including even YOU) was born Muslim. After birth, it depends on your personal belief. In other words, one must openly and publicly declare that they are Muslim. If a person denies Islam they are no longer Muslim. Its between each person and their Creator.

            In other words, being born in a Muslim family does not make you a Muslim. Being born in a non-Muslim family is no bar to being Muslim. It’s something each person must choose and declare, or not.

            2) Obama denies being Muslim, and actively worships as a Christian. Remember the huge fuss over the teachings of Jeremiah Wright, who was Obama’s pastor for over 20 years at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago? I think that would indicate that Obama is indeed Christian both by declaration and by practice.

            3) According to scholars of both faiths, although there is much in common between Christianity and Islam, one cannot be both. The faith that focuses its beliefs on a theology centered on God’s Begotten Son would by definition be antithetical to the one that clearly declares that God does not beget, nor is begotten.

            Finally please read and listen to something other than the the Tea Party Digest, Fox News, or ClearChannel diatribes. The world out there is so much bigger than their myopic and hate-filled lens shows you.. You don’t have to agree with everything you read or hear, but understanding why people believe or act as they do will be very helpful.

          • HonestDebate1

            I never claimed Obama is a Muslim. I said he was born one according to Islam. You seem to agree. I don’t think he is a Muslim. I read NPR and HuffPo, relax.

          • hennorama

            DDaguera — my apologies for beginning this devolution.

          • jefe68

            His game is lame.

          • Ray in VT

            I have never heard that one is considered to be Muslim because one’s father is. I see that Franklin Graham stated that that is the case, but Politicfact certainly disagree, saying that “all of the sources we looked at described the Islamic faith as not
            belonging to any particular race, ethnicity or nation. Most of the
            sources said that whether one truly is a Muslim or not depends on the
            belief in Muslim teaching and the following of its practices, not
            whether one is born into the faith.”

            http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2010/aug/26/franklin-graham/graham-said-seed-islam-passes-through-father-obama/

            Perhaps you are confusing Muslims with Jews, where being Jewish is passed down through the mother’s line.

          • HonestDebate1

            I don’t know what Graham said and Politifact has a horrible record. There seems to be a piling on, I was just trying to be precise. Again, I have never even hinted that Obama is a Muslim.

          • Ray in VT

            Then what are your sources? It’s something that I have never heard in my years of study. I’ll take Politifact over just about any source that you have stood by any time. If you think that their record is horrible, then it’s probably a good sign for them.

          • anon

            I have no idea where you got that idea, but it’s absolutely not true. Islam is not inherited. A person who sincerely testifies that there is nothing worthy of worship except God (Allah in Arabic) and that Muhammad was His last Prophet – is a Muslim. What his or her father believes is completely irrelevant.

          • HonestDebate1

            I have read it several places and have seen the sura cited but I certainly could be wrong because I have to rely on translations. I am not a theologist. I know that the Shia and Sunni view it differently but I get confused as to which puts more emphasis on lineage,

            Again, I don’t care. I don’t believe Obama is a Muslim. I was just trying to cover the bases.

          • Don_B1

            You could “cover the bases” without dragging in all the slime that you can think of.

          • jefe68

            “no one thinks he’s a Muslim by Christian definitions.” Oy vay.

    • MOFYC

      We should stop painting Christians with a broad brush. They are not ALL peace loving harmless fuzz balls.

  • fun bobby

    so Jefferson was a secret Muslim as well? franklin thought papists and Muhammadites should both be allowed equal standing as protestants

  • geraldfnord

    A grandfather ran a religious court; it was especially popular with immigrants involved in civil disputes but used to distrusting the State, was selected voluntarily by members of his community, and its decisions were enforced not by physical force but by social pressure. As such, it (a ‘Beis Din’) and those ‘sharia courts’ (I don’t know the proper Arabic term) much like it (that is, those legal under law not aimed specifically at them) should in fact appeal to the libertarian side of many conservatives…but the Muslim variety falls afoul of their nativist tendencies, much as I should hazard the Bes Din rankled their spiritual forefathers (just imagine Coughlin, Pegler, or Pound on the subject…).

    • hennorama

      geraldfnord — thanks for the interesting anecdote.

      Were the judgments rendered by your grandfather’s Beis Din recognized by society at large, or only the local religious community?

      • Ayn Marx 666`

        They were recognised by society at large as ‘some of that stuff the Jews do, and who cares about them’? More to the point of what you asked, they were never _enforced_ by the society at large, which (through its State institutions) maintains a monopoly on sanctioned violence (its own military and police violence, or that which it sanctions in individuals, e.g. in self-defence, or [in some times and places] when you catch your wife with another man, or [i.s.t.a.p.] when a black man looks at you funny). No Beis Din, ‘sharia court’, ‘canon court’, or its other religious equivalent should not expect that form of recognition any more than should the East Bay Klingon Language Society.

        (My litmus test: what if this religious request came from the Church of Satan, or the Church of Creativity?) (Both of which churches should be able to do their business without interference up to the point that they use or encourage violence except as practised by the State to enforce general norms, e.g. a Setian should expect police protection against first degree murder.)

  • J__o__h__n

    Jefferson went through his Bible and cutout all of the supernatural claims. Did he do the same with his Koran?

  • Joe Mahma

    Islam – no thanks. Not in any way, shape, or form.

    • hennorama

      Joe Mahma — a question for you, and for the group as well:

      Do you have any personal experience with members of the Islamic faith?

      For example, have you ever:

      - spoken with a member of the Islamic faith?
      - lived with or been a neighbor of a member of the Islamic faith?
      - eaten a meal with a member of the Islamic faith?
      - read any of the Qur’an?
      - visited a country where the majority of the populace are Muslim?

      For me, the answers are Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes.

      The point is, direct knowledge and personal experience tends to change one’s perceptions and views.

      • HonestDebate1

        Do you paint Muslims with a broad brush? Do you think Radical Islam is a threat?

        • jefe68

          I find regressive right wingers with no common sense more of a threat than Muslims. I find gun toting gun nuts and advocates for stand your ground even more of a threat.

          Every Muslim I’ve met in my experience has been highly educated and open about a host of subjects. I use to have some interesting debates with one chap at a dog park about the Middle East and Israel in particular. We never came to blows, nor had harsh words even though I Jewish and he was a Muslim. Every right winger and especially Libertarians I’ve ever met has been intolerant and in some cases woefully ignorant as well.

          • HonestDebate1

            Then go hide under your bed.

            I have Muslim friends as well as Muslim clients, no problems. That’s not the point. I would never paint them with the broad brush that you do. That’s dangerous.

          • jefe68

            You just did paint all Muslims with a broad brush. What a jerk. I don’t hide from intolerant ignorant, people I confront them.
            I don’t hide behind the garbage produced by one of the worts offenders and cowards out there, Rush Limbaugh.
            Which you seem to do, a lot.

          • HonestDebate1

            I deny the charge, There are good Muslims and bad ones. Rush is a harmless lovable fuzzball. Don’t hate.

          • The poster formerly known as t

            Rush is the equivalent of an internet troll. His goal is not to present an unpopular view but to present inflammatory material.

          • HonestDebate1

            I disagree. How often do you listen to Rush?

          • The poster formerly known as t

            “Every Muslim I’ve met in my experience has been highly educated and open about a host of subjects. ” I don’t think this is a fair representation of reality. I hate to stereotype, but as an educated Jewish person, I assume you interact with people for whom radical islam, which is really political Islam, has little to no appeal because all their needs are being met.

    • Doug

      As a high school teacher for many years (where at least 5% of my students were Muslim), and as a four-year resident of France (which has a huge Muslim population), I can attest that every follower of Islam that I met was generous of spirit, intelligent, open minded, democratically-oriented, hard working, law abiding, and generally kind and good. But I guess we should paint them all as hate mongers since a handful of them are. But the same can be said of many, many Christians. So maybe we should paint Christians and Jews with such broad strokes too.

      • HonestDebate1

        It’s open season on Jews and Christians. Call them anything you want, no problem. But do you really think Christianity poses the same threat as radical Islam?

        • Ray in VT

          Yeah, look at all of those people attacking the Pope for his statements against greed and inequality.

          • HonestDebate1

            I have no problem with his speaking out against greed and inequity but he lost me when he blamed capitalism.

          • Ray in VT

            So you have no problem with him talking about those things. You just have a problem with him criticizing the political and economic environments that are in part at the root of those problems?

          • HonestDebate1

            The Pope can say whatever he wants. He has every bit as much right as you do to be wrong about the root of the problems. The Vatican could not exist without capitalism.

          • J__o__h__n

            I wouldn’t worry about them. They amassed a fortune before capitalism.

          • HonestDebate1

            Good point.

          • Ray in VT

            What was he wrong about? He criticized a system and a mentality that emphasizes money and profit above people and things such as the environment. It seems as though that is a pretty reasonable assessment of some aspects of our current system. Also, as far as I know the Vatican existed under Feudalism, so I think that the Vatican could easily exist without capitalism.

          • HonestDebate1
          • Ray in VT

            Yet another who can’t understand the difference between the criticism of particular aspects of a system and opposition to an entire system. About what I expect from the libertarians.

          • jefe68

            So how is it that this greed manifested itself sparky?

          • HonestDebate1

            Greed is good.

          • jefe68

            So you’re a wannabe Gordon Gekkco, figures.

          • HonestDebate1

            No, I once bought a lottery ticket and was scared $hitless that I might win. I’ll never do that again.

            I just think greed gets a bad wrap. If not for Steve Jobs’ greed I couldn’t be responding to you now. I hope some greedy SOB gets beyond rich for curing cancer. I see an upside.

          • jefe68

            You keep digging that inanity hole larger and larger.

        • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

          Our Christian president launched a discretionary war when he invaded Iraq and precipitated the deaths and maimings of hundreds of thousands. Comforted by his faith, he sleeps “just fine” at night. Perhaps if he had not been so sure that he was fulfilling God’s will, he would have thought twice and never pushed for war.

          • HonestDebate1

            Our Christian President had a couple of black Muslim teenagers assassinated pronto at the beginning of his term and has been killing them at a pretty good clip ever since.

            We did not invade Iraq for religious reasons although others have provided debunked quotes from terrorist saying he did.

        • jefe68

          It should be open season in idiotic comments, like the one you posted.

          • HonestDebate1

            I stand by it, where do you disagree?

          • jefe68

            On all of it. You say the same garbage about white people.

          • HonestDebate1

            You are on record, Christianity is more of a threat than radical Islam. God bless you.

          • jefe68

            Where did I say that? On record with whom? You? You really seem to like proving over and over again what a complete imbecile you are.

          • HonestDebate1

            You clearly wrote that you disagreed with “all of it”. You are so full of hate you did not even consider what I was saying,

          • jefe68

            I disagree with all of what you wrote because it was pretty absurd comment.

            That does not mean I think that Christianity is a larger or smaller threat than Islam, or that Islam is a threat at all. You make a lot of absurd comments based on fallacies and hyperbole. Of which the original comment is a prime example.

            You seem to have profound ignorance of the history of this complex topic in context to Christianity and Islam. Let alone Judaism.

            As to my hatred of you’re inanity, well I would say it’s more disdain than hate.

          • HonestDebate1

            I did not say Islam is a threat, I said radical Islam. Radical Islam is not a feckless minority view.

            My comment was not at all provocative. You made it so by just spewing invective, I do have a fairly good grasp on religions including Judaism. I even wore one of those funny hats at Thanksgivica while my mother lit the first candle on the Manurkey.

          • jefe68

            Wow, are you even aware how offensive you sound?

          • HonestDebate1

            Maybe to you, I am motivated by love.

          • Don_B1

            Either your punctuation is off, or I don’t see jefe68 seeing much “love” in your motivation for comments trying to distract the conversation from the existential threat that unregulated capitalism is, where Islamic radicalism is not (except, of course, in the way it has successfully led a large segment of the U.S. populace to overreact to it). It is the overreaction to Islamic radicalism that Republicans and their acolytes use to heighten fear and reduce thoughtful analysis of where the Republicans are taking country off the rails.

          • HonestDebate1

            Alrighty then.

      • hennorama

        Doug — Thanks for sharing your story. That’s been my personal experience as well.

    • jefe68

      That’s your choice. It’s called freedom of religious belief and it’s in the 1st Amendment of the Constitution.
      You don’t get to choose this for others.

    • HonestDebate1

      I love Trafficant’s hair.

  • John_in_VT

    As pointed out below Jefferson also created his own version of the bible by including just the parts that Jesus said or did. He was in many ways also a religious rebel. Appropriate since Jesus was also a rebel.

  • hennorama

    How unfortunate that through this show, Thomas Jefferson is now linked to someone who wanted to burn thousands of copies of the Qur’an.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      I think Jefferson is being contrasted to that person; not categorized with him.

      • hennorama

        Neil Blanchard — indeed, but the connection has been made, and now Jefferson and this individual have a “Bacon number” of 1.

        It’s not hugely significant, of course, given the relative importance of the two men.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      I think Jefferson is being contrasted with that person; not linked to him.

  • B.J.D

    I found it inspiring that Keith Ellison X (a name he used to go by) used Jefferson’s Koran for his swearing ceremony, but I think it would have been more appropriate had he used Louis Farrakhan’s, his old spiritual mentor, Koran.

  • Doug

    What an excellent interview. Although we already know that the Founding Fathers struggled with the role of religion(s) in the early days of the country, and that they all foresaw the dangers a state-sanctioned religion would cause, it is refreshing to hear anew that they decided on the side of keeping government-sponsered religion out of the civic sphere. Now we just have to (re)teach this lesson to those Americans who still believe that the country was founded on the ideals of the Protestant religions.

  • J__o__h__n

    I wish religion would stop picking our pockets by not paying taxes and being otherwise subsidized.

  • nycXpat

    Thank you for a great show. Jane, I do appreciate your interview style.

  • truegangsteroflove

    I’m not sure what it means for today that Jefferson had a Qu’ran, but this segment is a good example of how curiosity can result in discovered truth that can be beneficial to society. Maybe some of the prejudice that built up over the past decades will break down a bit.

    What I find more interesting is how the guest pursued a small historical fact, and was able to write a book based on her research, something that provides a great example for others, especially women. It is doubly inspiring that she is doing it in the state of Texas.

  • TFRX

    I was wondering if there was anyone on public radio who could put Louie “Gomer” in his place, face to face. Or would it just be a useless exercise in Gish Galloping.

  • jefe68

    Nothing. That was wrong and Tom Ashbrook should have known better. As a secular American of Jewish birth I’m not comfortable with the notion that the US is a “Christian” country. MY mother is old enough to remember the days when Jews were not allowed into many establishments form hotels to restaurants and more.

    • fun bobby

      where was that? you never see any pictures of signs to that effect

      • jefe68

        Mostly in the South. The KKK was just as hatful towards Jews as Blacks. It was also common in the North. Why do you think there were Jewish hotels in the Catskills.

    • HonestDebate1

      How can anyone not like the Jews?

    • J__o__h__n

      Tom wasn’t the host. Blame Jane.

      • jefe68

        Sorry, I should have said Jane…

  • jefe68

    Zionist Judaism? F off jerk.

  • HonestDebate1

    We were founded on the premise that certain unalienable rights (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) come from our creator. That is unique in history, everywhere else rights come from government. So maybe that does’t fit the definition of a Christian country but it is certainly a Christian tenet.

    • Ray in VT

      There were plenty of governments which derived their laws and authority directly from the divine. It seems to me that it was a far more innovative approach that we declared that government derives its legitimacy from the consent of the governed and that it is the right of the citizens to change the government when the government is not living up to its responsibilities towards its citizens. Also, I wasn’t aware that unalienable, or is it inalienable, rights are Christian. Where’s that one in the Bible?

      • HonestDebate1

        Governments yes but they grant them to the people in law. We are unique in acknowledging the people’s rights come from our creator and that they are unalienable (it’s unalienable not inalienable). Legitimacy from the consent of the governed is nothing new. Elections have been around.

        • J__o__h__n

          The Constitution makes no reference to a creator. The rights come from the people.

          • jefe68

            He’s confusing the Declaration of Independence with the Constitution.

          • HonestDebate1

            O mentioned neither, I was referring to our founding which encompasses it all.

          • jefe68

            So neither document rounds out your point of view? You’re just shooting from the hip or from some other nether region, I would say it is the latter.

          • HonestDebate1

            America was founded on the principle that the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are endowed by our creator.

            Truer words have never been spoken. Why is this a problem for you? Are you seriously disputing this fact?

          • Ray in VT

            America was founded upon the principle that the Colonies and its citizens should have a say in their own government and should have all of the rights and liberties guaranteed to them under British law and the British Constitution, which it was believed that the King’s government was violating.

            The Declaration is an embodiment of the principles and grievances at hand, but even without its words the arguments were being made for the defense of the legal rights of British subjects in some of the colonies. As great as the words in it are, it carried no force of law, as is witnessed by history, and many on the ground, such as the Boston seamen, likely cared more about Caribbean sugar than natural law theory.

          • HonestDebate1

            America was founded on the principle that the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are endowed by our creator. That’s all.

          • Ray in VT

            You’re just vastly oversimplifying history and the factors that played into our Founding. That is all. It seems to be a pretty common phenomenon for some. A bit like Sarah Palin’s musings on our history that she spoke at Liberty University.

          • HonestDebate1

            Absolutely false. I am simplifying nothing, I am simply not ignoring a basic fact. You are.

          • Ray in VT

            Nope.

          • jefe68

            Ray has already posted the answer to your ill-educated query. Really, you should read more history. British history is one place to start as it’s the basis of our own system. I already mentioned the Union of Indian Nations and tribal government models. If I’m not mistaken the idea of electing a leader comes from the Indian Nations Constitution. Nothing is born in a vacuum. And while your at it look up the Enlightenment philosophers, particularly John Locke.

            Locke by the way puts a real wrench into your idea that some magical being endowed us with these rights. He thought that the mind was a blank slate. Contrary to Cartesian philosophy based on pre-existing concepts, he maintained that we are born without innate ideas, and that knowledge is instead determined only by experience derived from sense perception

          • HonestDebate1

            It went right over your head. I am not arguing any of that.

            America was founded on the principle that the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are endowed by our creator.

          • jefe68

            Ahh yes, the pet response of it went over my head. Which it obviously did not.

            Alas, you can’t even respond to the notion that the Enlightenment philosophers were an influence on men such as Jefferson and Thomas Paine.

            By the way you left out some important parts of that letter to the King. When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

            We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

          • jefe68

            Thomas Jefferson ranked Locke, along with Locke’s compatriot Algernon Sidney, as the most important thinkers on liberty. Locke helped inspire Thomas Paine’s radical ideas about revolution. Locke fired up George Mason. From Locke, James Madison drew his most fundamental principles of liberty and government. Locke’s writings were part of Benjamin Franklin’s self-education, and John Adams believed that both girls and boys should learn about Locke. The French philosopher Voltaire called Locke “the man of the greatest wisdom. What he has not seen clearly, I despair of ever seeing.”

          • HonestDebate1

            Yes, over your head. But thanks of posting the non-sequitur.

          • jefe68

            Do you know the meaning of a non-sequitur? Because it would seem that you don’t. What I do see here is a very small mind at work. One that seems to get smaller with every post.

            You have no comprehension of the zeitgeist of the mid 18th century and how the Locke’ work is basis for Jefferson’s thought political philosophy. Not mention Adams, Paine or Madison.

            What’s really evident is your sophomoric approach to the subject. How little imagination and curiosity you have and how that frames your comments.

          • HonestDebate1

            Yes.

          • jefe68

            It’s clear you don’t.

            Funny how you seem to have some libertarian beliefs and yet you seem to have no knowledge Locke’s ideas.

          • Ray in VT

            British history can teach us a lot. That’s for sure. I do wonder if the British tradition of more limited monarchy in part derives from that Kingdom’s Anglo-Saxon history, where kings were elected by top leaders.

            I used to believe in that carte blanche stuff, but then I had kids, and that totally got tossed out the window for me. To be sure our surroundings contribute to making us who we are, but children are just born with things that make them unique.

          • HonestDebate1

            What is the name of the person who gave you your right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

          • jefe68

            My mother…

          • HonestDebate1

            Well, at least you didn’t say Obama.

          • J__o__h__n

            A number of historical figures and the current citizens,

          • HonestDebate1

            That may be true, if it’s true for you. Cool. But our Constitution was built on the Declaration’s premise that certain unalienable rights are endowed by our creator. That’s what makes America unique.

          • Ray in VT

            Where is that in the Constitution? The Constitution and the Bill of Rights does a lot, but where does it make anything unalienable For all practical purposes, legally, everything is in play. It is a pretty practical document that is, in most ways, pretty work-a-day.

          • HonestDebate1

            Again, you are missing the point and confusing the issue. The Constitution is built on the premise that we are born with those rights so government is limited by the Constitution from infringing on those rights.

          • Ray in VT

            Again, not at all am I confusing the issue.

          • HonestDebate1

            Non-sequiturs confuse the issue.

          • J__o__h__n

            “We the People of the United States [ . . . ] do ordain and establish this Constitution” – the rights come from the people.

          • HonestDebate1

            The government’s rights come from the people. In America our founding assumes the people’s rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness are endowed by our creator and are unalienable. It is that assumption that is the basis for giving the people power over government.

          • J__o__h__n

            Many documents inspired the Constitution. A strict reading of the Constitution would limit it to what was actually written in the document.

          • HonestDebate1

            Sure, but they weren’t our Declaration which is THE founding document. There was no America until we declared so.

        • Ray in VT

          Plenty of theocracies throughout history have taken their laws from the Word of whatever god or gods they worship, and the concept that citizens, even up to the monarch was subject to the law was not something new. The British had had that for over a hundred years by the time of our revolution.

          That the government should be composed of and subject to the will of the citizens was known in the ancient world, but had not been practiced on any scale in Europe since the end of the Roman Republic, some 1800 years previously, and the rule of a monarch, often with the backing of the Christian God, had been the norm for nearly the past 1300 years, so elections, while not new, had not had anything like the sort of breadth and scope that we envisioned.

          Stating that all are equal and have guaranteed rights while, at the same time, systematically denying rights and equality to many doesn’t seem to be any sort of great victory for freedom.

          So, are you no longer going to argue that there was some sort of difference between inalienable and unalienable? Yet another indefensible position that you have fought tooth and nail on.

          • HonestDebate1

            They didn’t extend it to the people. That’s why we fought the Revolution.

            And there is a difference or they would not have changed it to unalienable. Duh.

          • Ray in VT

            We fought the Revolution to extend “it to the people”. That would come as a surprise to the many who were not included in “the people”, as well as to those who were angered by having to pay taxes for a war that we started. Your position is highly simplified and seems to look past the very complex history of thought and tradition that went into the intellectual foundations upon which our system was built, as well as the complex factors that led the Colonies to revolt, as well as the diversity of opinion within the colonies on these issues.

            The OED says that there is no difference in the historical definitions. Simple word choice preference. Duh. If you have evidence to the contrary, then please provide it, unless you’re going to fall back upon the usual gawd-awful “research” that you’ve done on the topic.

          • HonestDebate1

            All men are created equal and we are all endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights. The premise includes all. That was an impossible notion under the Kings rule. That’s what the Revolutionary war got us. That doesn’t mean we’ve always lived up to it throughout out history. You are confusing the issue.

          • Ray in VT

            Not at all. I am just seeing it in the historical context and acknowledging the complexities that exist regarding the factors that fed into the era and its thought. The British had certainly proved previously that the Crown was not above the law or above being constrained by even the sort of limited democracy that then existed in Britain.

          • HonestDebate1

            What have I written that makes you think I don’t know that?

          • Ray in VT

            What you have written, as well as your long history of statements that lead me to question your knowledge of many things current and historical.

          • HonestDebate1

            Then prove me wrong.

          • Ray in VT

            Please prove that a single statement in a document signed by 56 people represents the founding principle upon which millions of people stretched across hundreds of miles built the framework for the system which was later constructed and embodied in the Constitution.

            My assertion is that the ideas that helped to build our system were amassed from a hodgepodge of ideas that had been kicking around for decades and rooted in the Enlightenment thinking that emphasized the powers of Reason, often at the expense of faith and belief. With or without that particular statement there would have been a Revolution, as it was well underway at the time, and the idea of limited government had been an evolving work in Great Britain for more than 550 years by the time that we got around writing our document, and that document holds nothing sacrosanct.

          • HonestDebate1

            I am not going to prove to you that the Declaration of Independence formed the basis for our Constitution, take a 2nd grade civics class.

            Show me where the Constitution violates the premise set forth.

          • Ray in VT

            I’m pretty well schooled in the history of our country, but I do think that even a second grade class likely provides better historical context than you either can or will.

            The Constitution, as it declares in its opening words, is made by the people, not a creator.

            Given that the Constitution provided that there was to exist a class of persons who were legally not really people, then it certainly did not follow that lofty ideal, which many in the Colonies did not support when it came to some humans who were not really considered to be people.

            The Constitution also certainly lays out powers for the government that may stand in the way of people pursuing their happiness, depending upon what that happiness might be.

          • HonestDebate1

            I never said the Constitution was written by our creator. Standing in the way of someones happiness has zip zero nada to do with saying you are born with the right to happiness. And it’s an abstract anyway. No one knows the true meaning of life and our existence. It is the starting point; the default position. Then comes the rules to make sure government doesn’t infringe on those rights. It’s not the government allowing you to be free.

          • Ray in VT

            “Show me where the Constitution violates the premise set forth.” I thought that my point was pretty clear, as well as how many did not envision a nation which was founded upon the notion of natural rights, as their system and livelihoods depended upon that not being the case.

          • jefe68

            And yet you think the Enlightenment is non-sequitur in context to the framers.

            You can’t prove it because you don’t have an understanding of the era or who the framers of the Constitution were.
            It’s clear from your comments that you lack even a small amount of knowledge of anything doing with the period other than a very simplified 2nd grade overview.

          • HonestDebate1

            Prove what? All I did is quote one of the most quoted quotes ever.

          • jefe68

            A lot.

      • HonestDebate1

        Oh yeah:

        “Those rights, then, which God and nature have established, and are therefore called natural rights (unalienable rights), such as are life and liberty, need not the aid of human laws to be more effectually invested in every man than they are; neither do they receive any additional strength when declared by the municipal laws to be inviolable. On the contrary, no human legislature has power to abridge or destroy them, unless the owner shall himself commit some act that amounts to a forfeiture.” (Commentaries, 1: 93)

        I think the last few times I posted this for you it was in the form of a Wiki Page but this is more thorough:

        http://www.edmondsun.com/opinion/x422131776/Unalienable-rights-the-core-of-liberty#sthash.Czk9YHwx.dpuf

        • Ray in VT

          I am aware of that passage. I looked it up previously. Where does he contrast unalienable rights from inalienable rights? Surely he distinguished the two. Please provide a quote where he does that, otherwise I will gladly stand behind the OED and the other reference sources, and not some hackneyed theory propagated on the Internet by only who knows.

          • HonestDebate1

            The definition is unique to the definition of inalienable. This is not an internet rumor. I learned it in grade school. I really don’t understand what offends you.

          • Ray in VT

            Not as far as I can tell. The OED, which was one of the sources that I turned to, certainly does not indicate that that is the case. If you can provide me an example of where Blackstone contrasted the two, then please do. Both terms had been in use in English for quite some time by the 1770s. If there was some sort of difference, then should he not have addressed it?

            People also often learned in grade school that Columbus was some sort of heretic for claiming that the world was round, and that is bogus, so I’m going to toss the bogus flag on this one as well. What offends me is how some people will stand by some garbage tossed together by some jewelry website that contradicts highly respected sources that are the result of decades of scholarship. It just seems that some are more predisposed to believing in that which is either highly questionable, or worse, blatantly false.

    • jefe68

      I guess you never heard of the Magna Carta.

      It’s well known that Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Thomas Paine were well aware of the inner workings of many tribal governments such as the Iroquois Confederacy, the Cherokee, and the Shawnee.

      That the tribal government model was an influence on the framers.

      The Union of indian Nations was well established before any Europeans had a foot hold in the Americas.

    • J__o__h__n

      The king’s power came from god too. I prefer actual rights that come from a constitution.

      • jefe68

        What can you expect from someone who does not seem to have read any history, has no time for Shakespeare (Richard the II has plenty in it about the divine rights of Richard to rule England) and thinks Rush Limbaugh is worth quoting.

        • HonestDebate1

          What did I get wrong?

          • jefe68

            You’re referencing the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution.

          • HonestDebate1

            I understand that. I didn’t mention the Constitution. What did I get wrong?

          • jefe68

            Figure it out.

          • HonestDebate1

            I wasn’t wrong, you made the allegation.

      • HonestDebate1

        The King didn’t pass them on to the people and did not acknowledge that all men were created equal.

    • Just so

      That idea came from the age of enlightenment, not from religion. And actually some kings and governments did in fact allow man to follow his conscience rather than a specific religion. Charles II did with the Rhode Island experiment (recently celebrating it’s 350th anniversary where there was a specific free exercise of religion where it was specifically stated that meant christian, Islam, Judaism, eastern religions or ones own conscience (ie, atheism) Also King John of Transylvania declared no official religion (in the 1500 or 1600′s can’t recall at the moment) and promoted the idea of man following his conscience.

      By stating “come from our creator” is in no means suggesting one particular religion over another. It is stating that all humans by nature have certain rights. Every culture we’ve come across in the history of humankind has a creator and most of them are not Christian (but ones where Christians felt entitled to “convert”) Our creator could be in reference to chemical makeup that allowed for the evolution of species (although that thought had not yet been introduced) or it could be a single God, multiple Gods, Nature, or Mythology.

      • HonestDebate1

        I agree with you but there is a distinction between those concepts and the task of constructing a Constitution that starts from that premise and limits government’s powers so as to protect that premise. That is what is unique about America, not the notion that we are born with rights or free to follow our conscience.

        As I said: So maybe that doesn’t fit the definition of a Christian country but it is certainly a Christian tenet.

  • Warren Howe

    Since when is “a creator” (only) Christian?

    • HonestDebate1

      It’s a Christian tenet, others blame monkeys.

      • TELew

        Only people who don’t know anything about history think that the creator has to be Christian. Deists held this notion as well, among others.

        • HonestDebate1

          Yes, I agree. I never said the creator had to be Christian. I just said it was a Christian tenet. It is.

          • Joseph Lee

            you also said ‘others blame monkeys’, which indicates that:
            a. you do not understand that there are creator deities in other religions
            b. you do not understand the concept of evolution
            c. you cannot tell the difference between monkeys and apes.

          • HonestDebate1

            Or d) I was tweaking the atheists.

          • Just so

            How can you call yourself “honestdebate” when your post is so dishonest. “I never said the creator had to be Christian … ” But you did say, anyone who is not christian thinks the creator is a monkey….frankly I know absolutely zero people who think that. But I have heard some Christians say it about non Christians. That doesn’t make it a fact.

          • HonestDebate1

            ” But you did say, anyone who is not christian thinks the creator is a monkey….frankly I know absolutely zero people who think that. ”

            I didn’t say that. Please don’t tell me what I think, it’s not honest debate.

  • Imran Nasrullah

    I think what would be interesting to understand, are the Quranic injunctions against slavery, and the emphasis to free slaves (yes that is all there in the Quran) with Jefferson’s ownership and treatment of slaves – e.g. siring of children with slaves. And how Jefferson could reconcile his disdain for religion, especially Islam, with Islam’s proscription against slavery.

  • Imran Nasrullah

    Listen, radical anything is almost always a detriment. Islam, Judaism, and Christianity all have their radicals, and all are inimical to reasonableness. Lets just not focus on radical Islam as the only exemplar, ignoring the un-contribution of the others as well. Everyone is guilty of extremism, even Buddhists!

    • HonestDebate1

      That’s very true, point taken. But in 2013 who is wreaking the most havoc and is the greatest threat? I am very respectful of all religions as I believe no one alive knows what happens when you die. Whatever brings anyone comfort is none of my business, nor am I smart enough to question their faith. It all comes down to faith even if it is faith in nothing. But there is the practical matter.

  • HonestDebate1

    Same thing,

  • HonestDebate1

    The way I heard it was when they wrote the Announcement of Independence they were not at all concerned with clarity or the even the eloquence of a teeny bit of extra grammatical oomph. For that reason it didn’t really matter if they used a word with visually the same definition.

    I also heard that when they wrote dictionaries centuries ago they made up the definitions not based on any precedent or real etymology. It was more like a drunken parlor game.

    I understand ol’ man Oxford thought “in” and “un” were interchangeable:

    “In English in- (il-, im-, ir-) is a living negative suffix for words of Latin or Romanic origin, freely used, even when no corresponding formation appears in Latin; in this use it interchanges to some extent with the Old English negative un-, which is used in native or thoroughly naturalized words, e.g. incautious, uncautious, in-, un-ceremonious, in-, un-certain, in-, un-communicative, in-, un-devout, in-, un-distinguishable. In such cases the practice in the 16th and 17th c. was to prefer the form with in-, e.g. inaidable, inarguable, inavailable, but the modern tendency is to restrict in- to words obviously answering to Latin types, and to prefer un-in other cases, as in unavailing, uncertain, undevout.”

    I understand it is part of the lexicon to misquote the Declaration of Independence. Heck, I heard Rush say it the other day. Inalienable is carved into the Jefferson Memorial for Pete’s sake. Still the document says unalienable. It really does. Really and truly.

    I guess I even understand that you would dismiss anything even tacitly religious. That’s why, in my opinion, it’s the words “endowed by our creator” that really bug you.

    But I don’t understand why you would call a well sourced scholarly opinion crap. t seems ideological but this isn’t a partisan issue. You usually say you like sources and reasoned opinions.

    And I also don’t understand where you got the idea inalienable meant rights could be taken away. Do you have a source for that? Ironically it seems to me that is what you want it to mean and want the document to say. So you recoil at the actual word used while you say there is no difference. It boggles me.

    • Ray in VT

      “For that reason it didn’t really matter if they used a different word
      with virtually the same definition. It’s not like they spent much
      thought on it.” But I thought that you said that they fretted over every word? Also, based upon your claims as to the supposed difference between the terms, which is not supported by historical and scholarly sources, the latter which some anonymous piece on a jewelry site certainly is not, then the meanings are not “virtually the same”. That they are the same is the position of the best sources available. That there is a difference in meaning that makes one lesser at the time of Revolution is not supported by such sources.

      Please tell me what John Adams’ reasoning was, and how you have discovered that. The conclusion of historians on the matter is that, based upon the interchangeability of the terms at the time, it was simple word preference. It is the position of others, based upon “evidence” that is below shaky, that there was some significance in the change.

      I call that source that you have used crap because it is. Definitions from 75 to 100 or more years later mean nothing when discussing previous times, where evidence does not exist to suggest a difference. My opposition isn’t ideological. My opposition is factual, historical and logical. It seems pretty simple to me, but, apparently, it is not for some. I guess that that is one benefit to having a good higher education.

      You have argued that inalienable rights can be taken away, not me. My position, supported by the best sources, is that the terms meant the same thing in 1776. This supposed controversy is something that I had never heard of until you once brought it up. This is not something that gets addressed in the historical community, because it’s a faux controversy.

      • jefe68

        This chap seems to be all about beating dead horses.

        • HonestDebate1

          We had to put one down yesterday, broken hip. But really Jeffe, it’s Ray that keeps bringing this up, not me. I think it’s silly but he’s like that.

          • jefe68

            Sorry to hear that.

          • HonestDebate1

            Thanks. I’ll watch it.

          • HonestDebate1

            I have not had a chance to watch the whole thing but there is a distinction here. I am not arguing whether our unalienable rights come from our creator. Nobody knows that. I am saying that is the premise our Constitution was built on.

          • Ray in VT

            What in the Constitution makes anything unalienable?

          • HonestDebate1

            Nothing, that part is endowed by our creator. That’s the point.

          • Ray in VT

            So where is that concept, or premise if you will, built into the Constitution, and if it is not in there, then how could the basic framework of our government leave out what you claim to be our founding principle?

          • HonestDebate1

            Are you serious?

          • Ray in VT

            Quite. If the founding principle was rights that could not be taken away, then how in the world did the Founding Fathers fail to enshrine that concept in the Constitution?

          • HonestDebate1

            By limiting the power of government and not attempting to take them away.

          • Ray in VT

            But they didn’t make them inalienable. They are all alienable. Any and all rights could theoretically be repealed. Why didn’t they lock it up? Make it unalienable? How inalienable were the rights of the 3/5ths people?

          • HonestDebate1

            Look man, I am not going to argue the fact that our Constitution was based on the premise we are born with unalienable rights. Believe what you want.

            I can see by your 3/5ths reference that you totally don’t get it. Never mind.

          • Ray in VT

            I just want to know where those unalienable rights are in the Constitution. If that was the founding principle, then how does the Constitution embody it, and why didn’t they go with something on that front, instead of starting off with some sort of statement about government being established by the governed? Certainly that is a lesser principle than the principle that you mention.

            If I don’t get it, then please educate me, as I have only the miniscule knowledge obtained during my course of study as a history major. I mean, I didn’t even know about the major controversy of the difference between inalienable and unalienable, which you learned about in grade school. My course of study has been so lacking.

          • HonestDebate1

            So you never heard the unalienable quibble? You seem upset about that. And the Godly reference really bugs the hell out of you , doesn’t it?

          • Ray in VT

            Nope never heard of it, mainly because it’s not an issue, based upon usage from the time. Godly reference? God isn’t mentioned in the Constitution.

          • jefe68

            OK, but the legal arguments made using Locke’ thesis about life, liberty and the pursuit of property is pretty central to the argument. No?

          • HonestDebate1

            Sure.

          • Ray in VT

            I just have a problem with people standing by positions that are blatantly wrong, which you are here. It’s sort of like the definition of lie. How long did you stomp your foot and tell me that by any definition one has to know that one is lying in order to be lying despite the existence of valid dictionary definitions that clearly disprove that notion?

          • HonestDebate1

            You can disagree that they chose their words carefully or that there was an acknowledged difference between the words, fine. You can say that it was changed for no reason whatsoever. You can even believe that nobody else thinks otherwise and 150 year old legal dictionaries citing differences, or 250 year old commentaries on English Law are totally irrelevant. Again fine.

            But how can you say I am blatantly wrong? No one alive was there. I and many many others have our view, we have our theories and supporting evidence. I’ve made a case but haven’t thrown down some gauntlet of certainty.
            —-
            So that’s it? Really? You did all that to hold me to the nano-distictionless literal interpretation of the cliche’ “by any definition” because you found a noun?

            That’s small dude, but if it helps you cope God bless you. It’s a lot of work to avoid the subject of whether Obama lied. Did he lie?

            Here’s an honest view:

            http://onpoint.wbur.org/2013/12/13/federal-budget-mandela-ukraine#comment-1161443241

          • Ray in VT

            A 150 year old definition means nothing when discussing a 240 year old usage. It’s pretty elementary. I am not saying that Blackstone is irrelevant. I am saying that he didn’t describe a difference between the two terms. If you think otherwise, then please provide a quote.

            I say that you are blatantly wrong based upon the evidence of the best historical sources. I don’t really care if you think that the OED is wrong. Some people think that the gays brought down Rome. They’re wrong too. If you want to stand by a few uses that don’t distinguish between the two, definitions from 70 years later that say that the right to liberty is both inalienable and unalienable and that those rights cannot be transferred, and a couple of 20th century references that get even further from the 18th century uses, then fine, but that is a losing argument, but you can always just declare victory and move on, regardless of the facts at hand.

            Hey man, I’m not the one who has a problem with the dictionary or who seems to believe that believing a lie makes one honest. Costanza would be proud.

          • HonestDebate1

            One minute:

            “A 150 year old definition means nothing when discussing a 240 year old usage.”

            The next:

            “… I will gladly stand behind the OED and the other reference sources…”

          • Ray in VT

            You seen to be implying that there is a contradiction, although none exists.

            Yes, the OED, which tracks the origins and changes in meaning of words over time. That, along with other reference sources that look at the history of usage, and not a volume that gives a definition as it existed during a certain period of time well after the fact, is a work worth standing behind. Pretty basic.

      • HonestDebate1

        Dude, it’s not an controversy. I never said inalienable meant rights could be taken away, ever. Blacks law dictionary is the Bible, it’s not crap. Court precedent is court precedent, not crap. Bouviers Law dictionary is not crap. I mean you can wrongly claim they don’t apply but crap? And they do apply, hint: I was being facetious when I wrote they made up the words. And the founders actually did pay attention to words too.

        I told you to search my comments. John Adams was going by (among other things) William Blackstone’s Commentaries. If you google him and unalienable you will find it, look it up. If you search unalienable vs inalienable you will find bookoos of scholars discussing it. This isn’t just something I made up. You are clearly wrong to assert it is not supported by historical and scholarly sources but I’m sure you will keep saying it anyway.

        Regarding the link, it’s irrelevant. There are any number of places that cite historical sources. You have never once (correct me) addressed a word of what’s cited in the link. Why?

        What exactly is your beef? It says what it says.

        • Ray in VT

          My beef is the insistence of a certain segment of the population that is either so uneducated or just plain dumb that it will gobble up idiotic “controversies” like this. I look at a quote from you like this, which I certainly take as meaning that inalienable rights can be lost, whereas unalienable rights cannot:

          “The word “inalienable” suggests rights cannot be taken away without the
          consent of the grantor of those rights, man. “Unalienable” means no way
          no how because they come from our creator.”

          http://onpoint.wbur.org/2012/05/29/education-and-mitt-romney

          Please allow me to be more clear, seeing as how you have difficulty seemingly understanding even simple things. Citing definitions from decades later and saying that those definitions apply to earlier times, when the most authoritative sources say that that was not the case makes it a crap source for that argument. Understand? The gemworld bit is a piece of nonsense, written by someone who is likely a fool, and the “bookoos of scholars” pontificating seem to be just more teabagger morons who also don’t have a clue. It’s the same idiotic argument from all of them, and it is wrong.

          Please provide definitions from the time of the Declaration that show a difference. You cite Adams. Great. Please cite his reasoning. You cite Blackstone, who I am sure that you have studied in great detail. Great. Please provide me with quotes where he contrasts and shows a difference between the two terms.

          “You have never once (correct me) addressed a word of what’s cited in the link.” I have indeed done that many times. Perhaps you merely lack the ability to understand what I have said. Would it help if I used shorter words?

          • HonestDebate1

            I thought you were the historical guru. Why do I have to quote Blackstone? I’ve done it before. What does inalienable have to do with anything anyway? That wasn’t the word they used. All I have said is they chose their words carefully and there was a difference. What is so hard to grasp about that? Is it an off the wall concept? You went off the deep end as if it’s the first time you’ve heard it and haven’t let up since. Why? Would you have preferred inalienable? You clearly have a problem with the concept of either word.

            Now, regarding my quote, congratulations. I stand corrected, I was wrong once… sort of. That was years ago in a debate not with you so it wasn’t on the tip of my brain when recalling debates with you. It was to the best of my knowledge the first time I ever brought it up on this blog and before you started haranguing me. I did not bring it up then either but I commented because it was a bugaboo of mine going back years before the years old comment. I was writing from memory, it’s an old debate, and got it slightly wrong. In the time, inalienable rights left open the possibility that the grantee (not Grantor) of the rights could rescind them. I did write “suggest” so I wasn’t really too far off but I should gave refreshed my knowledge before posting. I sure I did before we got into it. that’s when I found that awesome gemworld site.

            I am assuming you know all of this because if you searched that far back you undoubtedly saw many times where I clarified the distinction to you. You know in your heart.

            But again, my whole point was never that there was a controversy or a major difference in the words. That’s why I used the word “suggests”. It has always bugged me that the most quoted quote is also the most misquoted quote. When people write “inalienable” It’s wrong. That’s it. You are the one who made all the rest of it up.

          • Ray in VT

            I haven’t made anything up. Your memory is really quite selective on this, as well as other, issues.

            I have never seen you quote Blackstone, so kindly refresh my memory as to how he differentiated between inalienable and unalienable.

            I don’t have a problem with either term having been used, as the best sources indicate that at the time there was no difference between the terms, some sort of faux controversy that lives in the minds of some self styled experts notwithstanding.

          • HonestDebate1

            Yes, I quoted him from the Wiki page. Why do you care? Jefferson had inalienable and it was changed to unalienable. That’s what it says.

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